President Obama and the First Lady will welcome His Holiness Pope Francis to the White House today, Wednesday, September 23. Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Editors’ Picks for Sept 23

Planned Pipeline Near Nuclear Power Plant, Californians Fear El Niño Might Break Levees, a New Cold War, and More Picks

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We’re pleased to introduce PICKS — stories selected by our editors because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They will appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. And we invite you to recommend articles, videos, podcasts, etc. Please send them to

PICKS for Sept 23:

The Pipeline That Could Destroy New York State (Russ)

“In December 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo outlawed fracking in New York, citing the method as unsafe for both the health of his citizens and their surrounding environment. However, the ban did not take into account the transportation of fracked natural gas liquids through the state.

“Now, Spectra Corporation, one of North America’s leading pipeline and midstream companies, is moving forward on a project to expand the Algonquin Pipeline.

“The new path will bring the pipeline within 110 feet of sensitive materials at Indian Point nuclear power plant, and straight through the surrounding communities. If something were to ever go wrong, the lives of over 20 million people would be put in jeopardy.”

California Drought and Impending El Niño Raise Fears of Levee Breaks (Russ)

“The prolonged drought may have weakened California’s more than 13,000 miles of levees, which could result in floods and affect the quality of water for millions of Californians.

“That’s a scary prospect for parts of the state that could get doused with torrential rain this winter, thanks to an El Niño weather front triggered by unusually warm Pacific Ocean temperatures. And the mere mention of levee breaks evokes terrifying images of the devastation Hurricane Katrina wreaked on New Orleans 10 years ago.”

Pope Needs to Do More to Challenge Militarism (Russ)

A column in the liberal National Catholic Reporter calls for the Pope to take a bold stance against war making and to praise and support peace activists. Here, Colman McCarthy lists a number of important symbolic steps the Pontiff could take (but probably won’t), including visiting peace protesters across from the White House and comparing and contrasting how much the US spends for war vs. peaceful foreign aid.

Climate Deniers Freak Out over Pope’s Position and Visit (Russ)

“What is environmentalism but nature worship?” said Heartland Institute marketing director Gene Koprowski, at a press conference last week ahead of the Pope’s visit. “I’m wondering, as a scholar, if pagan forms are returning to the church this day,” he said. “I think that if we have a pope who doesn’t view things in the orthodox manner, we’re going to be having forms returning to religion that are not orthodox.”

Joining Koprowski at the Heartland event was Philadelphia radio host and Daily News columnist Dom Giordano, who called Francis “potentially a dangerous figure, given his celebrity and his holiness.”

“The pope does seem to be enamored with solutions that are not pro-American in the slightest,” Giordano said, according to

US, Russia Are Getting the (Nuclear) Band Back Together (Klaus)

There is good news for anybody clamoring for the Cold War: The US and Russia are working on a sequel.

German news outlets reported this week that the US plans to upgrade its nuclear arsenal in the country — against the wishes of the German government. In 2010, the Bundestag had passed a resolution demanding the removal of nuclear weapons from Germany, but such a thing apparently does not mean much.

Russia, in turn, said it would take “countermeasures” because the US move would upset the strategic balance in Europe.

Ben Carson’s Islamophobia Isn’t Just Hateful. It Doesn’t Make Any Sense (Gerry)

Concludes this article:

“Although Islamophobia is good for attracting attention, candidates who use it during campaigns usually fall short on Election Day. Such is the tragic, repeated pattern of American political history, where a group is demonized and scrutinized one minute only to be accepted and embraced the next: Whereas Americans once challenged whether Catholics could even be American citizens, Catholics have since become members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, and yes, even president of the United States. In fact, this week the nation is welcoming the Pope himself with open arms, inviting him into the White House and to address a joint session of Congress.

“Today, we look back at such anti-Catholicism for the nonsensical hatred that it was. One wonders how quickly Americans will dismiss the Islamophobia of Carson and others.”

‘You are What You Eat’ is Proving More True Than Ever Before  (Milicent)

Medicine professor proposes new theory regarding the human “microbiome’s role in health and disease, and would like to share with you what I have learned during that process—chiefly, a provocative new way of looking at the human microbiome as an adjunctive, if not a primary treatment, for a variety of diseases.”

James Fallows Assesses Forces Lined Up Over Iran Deal  (Russ)

He finds an impressive array of those supporting the agreement, and describes them in detail, and he points out that no agreement can actually guarantee anything. He concludes:

“[T]he test of the deal is not whether it guarantees that Iran can never build nuclear weaponry. If that’s what you’re for, you are against any real-world deal.

“The question for Congress to ask about this agreement is whether it (a) does more than any alternative to (b) minimize Iran’s incentives to develop weapons for (c) as long a period as possible. Saying “No deal!” notably fails this final test, since China and Russia won’t continue sanctions just because the GOP thinks they should.

“The announced deal does more on those three measures than any other proposal I’m aware of. If there is a better option, let’s hear it.”

FIve Times Fiorina Fibbed (Russ)

Sure she was a secretary — after dropping out of law school and before moving to Italy with her first husband. And not exactly the American rags to riches “impossible dream” story she peddles. Studied French since age 4. Undergraduate at Stanford. Etc. Etc.

Ex-Governors Failing as Presidential Contenders Breaks ‘Iron Rule’ (Russ)

“Every presidential cycle rewrites the conventional wisdom about politics, and this one is no different. The iron rule that has now been broken is this: Governors make the best candidates.” Out: Governors or ex-Governors Walker, Perry. Down and Out: Jindal, Bush, Kasich. Struggling: Christie.

Conservative “Club for Growth” Exposes Donald As Actual Liberal

At least in their world.

Killing the World Over and Over: “Modernizing” America’s Nuclear Arsenal (Gerry)

The introduction compares the behavior and values of modern corporate executives with that of prior generations in the tobacco, asbestos, and lead industries, then notes:

“Remarkably enough, as Richard Krushnic and Jonathan King make clear today, the profits pursued by a second set of CEOs are similarly linked in the most intimate ways to the potential destruction of the planet (at least as a habitable environment for humanity and many other species) and the potential deaths of tens of millions of people.  These are the executives who run the companies that develop, maintain, and modernize our nuclear arsenal and, as with the energy companies, use their lobbyists and their cash to push constantly in Washington for more of the same.  Someday, looking back, historians (if they still exist) will undoubtedly consider the activities of both groups as examples of the ultimate in criminality.”

Bringing Bison Back to Restore the American Prairie (Milicent)

“The 30 bison at Nachusa taken to Illinois at the end of last year are part of a regional trend: the rewilding of the Midwest. In recent years, conservation programs in several states in the region have reintroduced large mammals — such as black bears and elk — into areas they once inhabited, before they were hunted to the brink of extinction. In other places, species like wolves and mountain lions have naturally returned to their former habitats.

‘The great slaughter’

“Bison are one of the United States’ most successful conservation stories, but they also exemplify just how much damage was done to the continent during westward expansion. It’s hard to know for sure, but at the beginning of the 1800s, Walk said, there may have been as many as 60 million bison in North America.”


Pope Francis Reverses Position On Capitalism After Seeing Wide Variety Of American Oreos (Russ)


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